SFGuide

The Best Restaurants In The Sunset

Where to get dumplings, seafood pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches in this gigantic neighborhood.
The house sampler at New Eritrea

photo credit: Melissa Zink

The Sunset is the biggest (and unofficially, the foggiest) neighborhood in San Francisco—and it’s also home to some of the best food in the entire city. You’ll find steaming bowls of phở, tabletop Korean BBQ, and incredible baked goods stretching all the way from the Inner Sunset to Ocean Beach. So next time you find yourself hungry in the Avenues, use this guide to narrow down your options. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Erin Ng

Chinese

Sunset

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerLunchSerious Take-Out Operation
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Sometimes you just need to tear your eyes away from a screen, get out of the house in the middle of the day, and clear a plate of made-to-order dumplings. Beeline to Yuanbao Jiaozi in the Sunset. The casual spot has a menu made up of about 75% dumplings, all stuffed with napa cabbage and pork, chicken and corn, or mushroom and fish. The wrappers are the pinnacle of chewiness, and you’ll finish off the order of 14 in less time than it takes to find a parking spot on Irving.

Opened before FasTrak was a thing (in the ’90s, for the uninitiated), New Eritrea is a Sunset staple with a loyal fan base that spans generations. It’s also the coziest spot on this guide. Stained glass lamps cast a dim red glow throughout the long space, and the restaurant, including the atrium-like back room, is packed nightly with diners sitting elbow-to-elbow and passing around baskets of injera. All of the vegetarian dishes are plant-based, so bring a bunch of vegan and meat-loving friends without issue. The tumtumo is hearty and deeply onion-flavored, and the sambusas filled with well-spiced ground beef are the best in town. Roll in with a group of 10 or come solo to eat at the bar.

Even if you don’t drink wine or care about it at all, Palm City is worth knowing. This wine bar happens to serve footlong hoagies that could feed you for the greater part of a week. Get familiar with the Italian American, a sandwich overflowing with thinly shaved mortadella and enough arugula to constitute as a side salad. It's massive enough to split between two people, and you should enjoy it from a sidewalk table if the sun is out—or just head down to Ocean Beach for a picnic on the dunes.

You go to Thanh Long in the Outer Sunset for the gigantic, whole-roasted Dungeness crab. They’re thoroughly covered in salt, pepper, and a sh*t ton of butter, which makes breaking into the shells just as good as eating the actual meat. And while the crab alone is enough of a reason to come here, the garlic noodles, which were allegedly invented at this Vietnamese spot in the ’70s, are SF royalty.

There are only about four tables inside Dumpling Specialist, the hottest dumpling destination on this stretch of Taraval—so prepare to wait for a seat, or just cave, order your potstickers to go, and head over to nearby McCoppin Square for a picnic. Their precious xiao long bao are some of the best dumplings in the city, and require extra delicate handling. And know that no visit here is complete without a sticky rice roll, which is stuffed with youtiao and salty-sweet pork floss.

You’ll spot the crowd outside Kevin’s from a block away. This Vietnamese spot has been Irving’s phở destination for years and shows no signs of slowing down. This is an efficient, casual operation, so prepare to sit down, finish off your bowl of noodles, and leave satisfied. Going with any of the soups on the menu is a good move, but the vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and imperial rolls is also well worth your attention.   

Excellent wood-fired pizzas with crispy, chewy crusts are the star at this casual neighborhood spot. You have a bunch of different pizzas to choose from, like one topped with a mix of five different mushrooms, and another with purple potatoes, pesto, and pancetta. They also make an excellent margherita, which tastes even better with a drizzle of their hot honey or ranch. Add in some wine and cocktails and you have yourself the perfect, low-key night.

Finding halal Chinese food is a challenge in SF, unless you go to Old Mandarin Islamic. At the Outer Sunset spot, the entire menu of Northern Chinese dishes is halal, and lamb is the show-stopping meat. It’s served folded into dumplings, in rib form, or stir-fried with water chestnuts, onion, and what tastes like a bucketload of cumin that fills the bare-bones space with a sweet-earthy fragrance. The group dinner move on grey nights is an order of noodles topped with smoky fried bean paste, hearty soups, and Beijing-style hot pot.

There’s no shortage of excellent Korean food in the city, especially in the Richmond and Sunset. Manna is one of the best options for homestyle classics, like bubbling tofu stew, sizzling plates of barbecue, and heaps of japchae. The walk-in-only spot is built for casual weeknight dinners that’ll end with leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, since portions are massive and everything on the menu is under $20. And a visit here isn’t complete until you get a round of spicy and sweet chicken wings for the table. 

This worker-owned cooperative bakery with locations in the Sunset and Mission is a trusty steed. We rely on them for savory baked goods that are denser and heartier in comparison to what you’ll find around town. Check out the self-serve cases: Corn muffins, scones, focaccia topped with artichoke hearts or mushrooms, cheese breads, and pecan rolls will beckon, tempting you to buy one of everything. This place doubles as a pizzeria, so never fight the urge for a taste of whatever super chewy sourdough slice is on the schedule for the day.

Noodle soups make up the majority of the menu at this relaxed Vietnamese spot, so get here when you need perfectly bouncy egg noodles and a steam facial from hot broth. The red leather booths inside this walk-in place are always full during the lunch rush with folks debriefing their mornings while munching on house pickles, golden brown egg rolls, and fish cakes. The best thing on the menu is the egg noodle soup with wontons and a duck leg that’s braised to that elusive fall-off-the-bone consistency. 

Banh Mi Crunch is the best bánh mì shop west of Van Ness. They’ve got eight different options, each with rich fillings like the sliced grilled pork or the crispy lemongrass beef. Every sandwich is packed with pickled daikon, carrot, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapeño, all on bread that’s crispy and crunchy on the outside while being delightfully soft on the inside. The sandwiches are definitely the easiest lunch option, but the big selection of rice and noodle plates also make a great refueling meal. 

photo credit: Erin Ng

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You’ll smell the sizzling bulgogi and pork belly wafting down 9th Ave. like an air freshener before you even arrive at this Korean restaurant in the Inner Sunset. This spot does barbecue extremely well, so sit down on one of their picnic tables out back and get into some tabletop grilling (make sure the crispy seafood pancake is in front of you, too). Um.ma also has soju and beer towers, and an upbeat atmosphere that always equates to a great time.

As you might guess by the name, this Chinese bakery in the Sunset specializes in pineapple buns, and they're not your standard bolo bao. There are a near-overwhelming range of fillings, and if you ate here every day for a month you'd miraculously never have the same thing. They come with slabs of melty guava butter, salted egg custard, matcha mochi and red bean paste, barbecue pork, and more. Fill a box with at least a dozen of the pillowy beauties, and hot dog buns and egg tarts, and picnic up at Golden Gate Park.

This spot in the Inner Sunset makes their ice cream in small batches, with housemade ingredients—and the effort shines through. We like the mint chip, which is incredibly light, made with fresh mint, and is always on the menu. Hometown Creamery also has excellent rotating flavors, like coffee and donuts or honey berry breakfast. You can also order “smidges,” golf ball-sized scoops that are perfect if you want to try a bunch of different flavors without needing to bust out the Lactaid.

Day Moon fills the niche of that requisite neighborhood spot for a coffee and a pastry. The tiny bakery is where to go on lazy mornings that call for not-too-sweet scones, upside-down fruit cakes, and cheese and butter sandwiches on fluffy sesame rolls. Even on the mistiest mornings, you’ll see families, dogs, and babies in strollers devouring all things butter and sugar from inside the green-toned space, or out on the sidewalk parklet. Join them—and always snag a crusty baguette for the road. 

Uncle Benny’s in the Sunset is a great spot for a quick breakfast—they have tons of bagel sandwiches, coffee, and fresh juices. But chances are very high that something from their neatly organized case of colorful, freshly made donuts will call to you. They focus on classic flavors here, like apple fritters, sprinkle donuts, glazed old fashioneds, and maple bacon, all of which will immediately send sugar coursing through your veins, in the best way.

We can say, with certainty, that San Tung’s chicken wings are life-changing. And, no, we’re not being hyperbolic. The dry-fried wings are covered in a caramel-like garlic, ginger, and red pepper sauce that are good enough to inspire an out-of-body experience. And yes, you will probably end up licking every last bit of the sauce from your plate, and possibly end a friendship when you go for the last wing. But you should also save room for things like crispy pork potstickers, three deluxe spicy sauce noodles, and beef with oyster sauce.

Any time you’re hungry and near Ocean Beach, odds are high you’ll end up at Hook Fish Co. The counter-service seafood spot is the hottest place for a beach-adjacent meal and is always packed with surfers still in their wetsuits or first dates on their way to a sunset picnic. There’s no indoor dining here, just a parklet-type situation where you’ll perch on a wooden structure with your tray of poke or fish and chips. Go with a burrito stuffed with whatever the daily catch is, and enjoy it along with some of the best people-watching in the Avenues.

The Special Breakfast Sandwich from Devil’s Teeth needs no introduction. Here's one anyway: if there were a biscuit sandwich Olympics, this one would win gold. It's a stack of perfectly scrambled eggs, avocado, bacon, pepper jack, and a smear of lemon-garlic aioli that really ties the handheld knockout together. The Outer Sunset bakery (there’s another outpost in the Richmond) also does pretty classic pastries, including cookies, quiche, and a fantastic icing-less cinnamon roll.

San Francisco’s House of Pancakes (no, not the international one) is a Chinese restaurant in Parkside where everything on the menu is $10.95 or less—so a meal here is a financially responsible choice. Come for the eponymous pancakes alone. Out of the 11 on the menu, the beef roll pancake is the winner. It’s a squishy yet crispy scallion pancake filled with hoisin and thick beef slices. Unless you’re planning an all-pancake diet for dinner (not a bad idea), add their solid dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, and grilled skewers to the order.

Outerlands looks like the inside of a boat, and we appreciate the commitment to the beachside theme. This American spot does both dinner and brunch, but we like it best during the day—the weathered wood and curved walls keep things cozy while you devour a dutch pancake or sticky-sweet morning bun. This is also a great place to come with your dog, since there’s tons of outdoor seating (plus blankets for you and your human friends, too).

In a city overflowing with casual sushi spots, Ebisu stands out. This place has been in the Inner Sunset for over 40 years, and is still packed with people here for straightforward rolls, nigiri, and superb appetizers, like miso-glazed eggplant and agedashi tofu. Things here also run smoothly: Even though Ebisu is loud and the tables are somewhat cramped, the service is quick and the people running it are always checking in on you. Post up at the sushi counter where things feel less chaotic, stick to the rolls, and pay extra attention to the specials on the board, like half-shell oysters.

Some of the city’s best vegan food can be found at Beach’n. The plant-based cafe, located just a block away from the beach, excels at comforting dishes that’ll fill you up after playing volleyball in the sand. Think tater tots the size of hockey pucks topped with a dollop of ancho crema, or crunch wraps stuffed with avocado, refried beans, and pickled jalapeños. There’s also plenty of seating inside, plus a bookshelf in the back if you want to leaf through a random novel.  

Toyose is located inside a converted garage, but unlike our third-grade science projects, most of what comes out of this place is actually pretty good. It’s open until midnight daily (2am on Fridays and Saturdays), and late-night is when you should come here—both because that feels like the right time to eat out of a converted garage and the Korean food they serve is filling and perfect after you’ve had a few drinks. We like the seafood pancake with shrimp, calamari, and vegetables, the kimchi fried rice, and the kimchi stew.

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